Friday, January 21, 2011

Amelie's expanding -- where?

Amelie's, whose original French bakery location in Charlotte's NoDa neighborhood saw such success with a 24/7 policy that a second, uptown location opened last fall, is expanding again.

This time, to Florida.

Todd and Carole Binkowski, longtime Myers Park residents and fans of Amelie's, relocated to be with family in Tampa, says co-owner Lynn St. Laurent. The Binkowskis had wanted to open an Amelie's extension in south Charlotte when they were here, but the timing just hadn't worked out. But now in Tampa, in Hyde Park Village, a place St. Laurent says is undergoing a community-based resurgence, things fell into place. The Binkowskis will be owners-operators, with the Amelie's ownership group also partners. Opening is planned for February, with a menu essentially the same as the originals.

"For us, the exciting part is (that) this is a really good test to see if Amelie's can be replicated, still keeping the same feeling we've got going here," says St. Laurent. Asked what the key to that is, she replies: "I know some of it sounds really corny, but we try so hard to be a part of the community and not really so concerned with being this money-producing restaurant kind of place... We want to see if we can go in and be our casual selves, you know?"